University Center, MI - A Michael Albrecht 27-yard touchdown catch with 1:01 remaining in the game propelled Saginaw Valley State to a 28-24 victory over Valdosta State in non-conference football action at Wickes Stadium Saturday evening.
With the loss, Valdosta State fell to 0-1 while SVSU improved to 1-0.
The Albrecht catch capped off an 11-play, 80-yard drive and was the fourth touchdown pass of the night for Cardinal quarterback Jonathon Jennings. Valdosta State threatened on its ensuing drive as Matt Pierce returned the kick-off to the VSU 46. A 19-yard pass to Gerald Ford followed, but a sack and three incomplete passes, the last just out off the fingertips of Regginald Lewis in the end zone, ended the VSU threat.
Both teams missed field goals on their opening drives, as Valdosta State marched to the Saginaw Valley State 10 yard line before seeing a 17-yard attempt sail wide left while the Cardinals missed a 48-yard try on their opening drive.
The Blazers opened the scoring on their next drive as they marched 69 yards on 10 plays to score on a 24-yard run by Cayden Cochran. Cochran used both his arm and his leg on the drive as he completed two-of-three passes while also rushing for 30 yards. The scoring jaunt came on a quarterback keeper around the left end that saw Cochran break a tackle at the 10 before diving head first through a tackle attempt at the one for the 7-0 VSU lead.
SVSU evened the game with 10:07 to go in the second quarter as Jeff Janis hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass. The Cardinals gained possession after a fumble by Cochran at mid-field was returned to the VSU 40. The key play on the drive came when Jennings scrambled on a second-and-eight play that moved the ball to the VSU 6. Two plays later, Jennings found Janis on across the middle to even the game at 7-7.
A Saginaw Valley State bad snap led to a fumble that was recovered by VSU on the Cardinal 4 to allow the Blazers to regain the lead. On the first Blazer play from scrimmage, Austin Scott took a hand-off and ducked under a tackle at the line of scrimmage before scoring untouched to put VSU in front 14-7.
The Cardinals evened the game up right before the half as Jennings and Janis again hooked up for a scoring pass. After a Blazer punt and with no timeouts remaining, SVSU took over on its own 39. Jennings proceeded to connect on five of his six passes on the ensuing drive, including four completions to Janis. The last came on a 22-yard completion in the end zone with 33 seconds remaining before halftime that evened the game at 14-14.
Saginaw Valley State took its first lead of the game on its second possession of the second half as Jennings and Janis hooked up for a 24-yard touchdown, only to have the Blazers score on a 70-yard catch by Seantavious Jones on the second VSU play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive to even the game at 21-21.
The Blazers regained the lead on their next drive as Daniel Andersen capped off a 65-yard drive with a 32-yard field goal that posted Valdosta State to a 24-21 edge, a lead that was preserved when on the ensuing drive, Tyler Josey intercepted a Jennings screen pass on the Blazer 13 yard line.
Valdosta State tallied 393 yards of total offense, including 95 yards rushing by Scott as well as 183 yards passing by Graham Craig, who entered the game at quarterback in the second half and completed 12-of-19 passes. Chris Pope led the defense with 16 tackles and a fumble recovery as the Blazer offense tallied four turnovers on the night.
Jennings completed 37-of-56 passes for 378 yards while Janis caught 14 passes for 167 yards. Albrecht added 11 receptions for 120 yards as the Cardinals compiled 459 yards on the night. Grant Caserta led the SVSU defense with 11 tackles.
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, September 8 at 7:00 p.m. when it hosts Fort Valley State in the Blazers' home opener at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.